GUJRAT: The Punjab government has planned to establish child protection units (CPUs) in every district of the province by 2025, as a sum of Rs850 million has already been approved for the establishment of such units in 11 more cities.

Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) Director General Shuja Qutab Bhatti said that currently Child Protection Institutes (CPIs) were functional in eight cities of Punjab--Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Sialkot--whereas two referral units had also been working in Sahiwal and Kasur in the rented buildings.

He added the construction work of CPIs buildings in Sargodha, Faisalabad, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sahiwal was in its final phase.

Mr Bhatti said contracts for the construction of CPIs in 11 cities--Bhakkar, Mianwali, Jhang, Layyah, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Vehari, Hafizabad, PakPattan, Jhelum and Chakwal--had been awarded to different firms after release of initial amounts of the funds allocated for the purpose.

He said the CPUs in Sahiwal and Faisalabad were likely to become functional after recruitment of the required staff.

The CPIs have the facilities of boarding, lodging, schooling, healthcare, psychological support, sports and skill development of the children, whereas the CPUs only serve as referral centres,where children can only be kept for seven days after which they are moved to the nearby CPI.

The Kasur CPU was established in a rented building soon after the Zainab case.

Construction of CPUs in Kasur and Gujrat has been approved for which the respective administrations of these districts are looking for suitable state land.

Mr Bhatti said expanding the CPWB network was a priority of ChiefMinister Usman Buzdar’s government and that was why it was being extended to the remote areas of Punjab, particularly in the south and western parts of the province.

He said the government had planned to establish a CPU in every district by 2025, whereas the CM had recently approved the purchase of 43 new vehicles for the operations of CPWB, including recovery and transportation of children.

Currently, he said, the bureau had two vans in Lahore that were used for the recovery of children across Punjab.

The DG said an increase in the salary package of the CPWB staff had been approved by the CM during a recent meeting held in Lahore.

The CPWB had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Tevta), after which a technical training institute has become functional in Lahore’s CPI. Such training institutes may also be established in other CPIs in Punjab.

The CPWB was established during Chaudhry Pervez Elahi’s government back in 2005. The first CPI was established in Lahore.

Sources said Mr Elahi,who is now speaker of the Punjab Assembly, had persuaded the Buzdar government to expand the operational network ofthe CPWB across the province.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2021

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